Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Open Wide the Doors to Christ

For the past 18 months I have a had the pleasure of serving as Administrator of Bethesda Post Abortion Healing Ministry here in Columbus, Ohio. Bethesda is a wonderful group of people who provide safe and confidential place of acceptance and healing for women and men who have been wounded by the tragic experience of abortion. Our Founder and Director, Judy Schlueter, has been involved in the pro-life movement for many years and put her numerous talents to good use in organizing this effort to reach out to the wounded and grieving. She is a licensed counselor and brings a tremendous amount of professional insight to the topic, but Bethesda works more on the personal and spiritual level where the healing is most needed. As one woman tearfully said after her abortion, "It's my soul that hurts!" Judy wrote a manual "An Experience of Hope" as a tool for those women looking for forgiveness and healing after an abortion that is used in Bethesda's group sessions every two weeks. Unlike some of the other post abortion programs available, Bethesda is a continuous program that allows women to be involved as long as they need. We have people available 24/7 on our support lines and help these women along the arduous path of healing and reconciliation.

At times it seems that our efforts in the pro-life movement focus exclusively on the issue of preventing abortions. That is very good and very needed, but in order to be promoting an integral pro-life mission, we must also tend to those that have been shattered by the choice of having had an abortion. The last thing we should do is demonize the women who have, unfortunately, killed their baby. Too often they grieve for years in silence and sorrow, ashamed of what they have done and even more ashamed should someone find out about it. They must know that there is forgiveness available to them in the welcoming arms of Jesus. We must be those arms of Christ reaching out to them.

Several years ago a young Dominican priest named Fr. Martin Martiny came in contact with Bethesda and became convinced of the program and it's power to touch souls. He went on to be a missionary in Kenya where he serves today with an amazing missionary zeal. He recently sent us a letter that I would like to share with you all. This priest's energy and desire to help souls is immediately evident. But so too are the terrible conditions and influences that are leading many young women to chose having an abortion. He notes that several of the girls came to him for counsel for the abortion but were "paralyzed by fear" and went on to have an abortion they now regret. That is often the case, not just in Kenya, but here in the States and everywhere else for that matter. These girls are left to feel as though they have no other alternative and that if they don't abort their baby, that their lives will be ruined - they have nowhere to turn. They are lied to and duped into believing that abortion is their best course of action, only to be left afterward with the "heart-shaped wound" that it inflicts. There may be people like this that we will run into or even people in our own lives who face a situation of this sort.

Be sure to equip yourselves with the information and resources to refer them. Know of priests like Fr. Martin in your local area that can counsel women in dire situations like this, be familiar with groups (like this, this, and this) who can help pregnant women and, of course, now you know of a place you can refer women who are grieving the abortion they have already done. These are real souls in need and lives at stake. We don't have to go to Kenya to witness it. 1 in 4 women in the United States has had an abortion...let's make sure they know the door is always open.

2 February 2010

First let me apologize for being so out of touch for so long.I remain the terrible correspondent that I have always been.

I would like to write to you that I am never in need of your post abortion healing manual; sadly, I now using it more than I have at any time since I came to Kenya. We do not have the group sessions because the archbishop is suspicious that the people will not respect confidentiality and too many could be wounded by betrayal. Other than group sessions, he pretty much allows me to do  whatever I think appropriate with respect to post abortion counseling.

At the moment, I am counseling five girls individually. Two of them came to me before the abortion; but were so paralyzed by fear that I was unable to make any headway in changing their minds. Now they are paralyzed by regret and sorrow.

The home brewed liquids are still in use for inducing labor or the expulsion of the uterine lining. One girl's grandmother gave her a green potion made from herbs in her garden. It worked in about 30 minutes. Later the doctor to whom I took her said that the chemical had caused a complete removal of the uterine lining. When he did an DNC, there was nothing for him to do. He told the girl that these liquids are powerful enough to kill the woman taking it.

Another girl went to a dirty, smelly abortion clinic and got into an already used bed for a mechanical abortion in a room she described as smelling of putrifying blood and flesh. She is still struggling with the physical consequences, as are all the others. Of course, they are all struggling with the emotional and psychological ones.

Your manual is proving to be of great assistance to me and I am most grateful to you for sending me the copies. I am hoping that I will never have all of them in use at the same time. Abortion, however, is either growing in acceptance and practice or I girls/women are now more willing to seek help after the event or maybe more are aware that I am willing to help those who have been victimized. Thanks again, by the way, for your donation to assist in our work. I did not even realized you had sent it for some time afterwards. I have made good use of every penny/shilling of it; but, as I have noted, the victims are growing in number. Obama is the wrong person in the wrong place for this issue, especially here in Kenya.

Our school, Our Lady of Grace, although always on the ropes financially, just expanded to nursery and seniors in high school. If we go broke, we will do so will all the grades in place. The auxilliary bishop dedicated the school on January 16th  and the archbishop will dedicate our Sacred Heart Chapel on February 10th. We will be the only school in the archdiocese with a chapel with the Eucharist in repose at all times. We will be able to have adoration as well as just quiet meditation before the tabernacle. I am confident that this will make a great difference in the atmosphere of the school.

The Dominican Sisters of the Holy Rosary of the Philippines will soon---before July any way---send us 4 sisters to be a presence in the school. They are not going to take responsibility for running it; but being here will be an enormous gift for us. At the moment, I am the acting principal of both the primary and secondary sections while still holding responsibilities as postulant director. So please pray for us and me in particular for the grace of prudence, counsel, and patience.

Hope all are well and that Bethesda is still a vibrant force for healing.

God bless and Happy Feast of the Presentation of the Lord,

Fr. Martin, OP

Monday, February 8, 2010

"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith."

As long as we're on the topic of athletes and examples of virtue, take a look at this video of Olympian Derek Redmond at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona. He had spent countless hours training and toiling to the point of exhaustion in order to win that gold medal, only to suffer an excruciatingly painful hamstring tear. One cannot help but be moved, not only by his tragic fall, but even more so by his heroic determination to finish the race, and by his dad coming out of the stands to literally carry his son across the finish line. The sight of this man hobbling along, sobbing on his father's shoulder in pain and disappointment while his father supports him and encourages him to continue serves as a powerful image for all of us - especially the sons and fathers among us.

No matter how trying, difficult, painful or long our trek in the valley of tears may be, Our Father is carrying us on his shoulder, giving us the graces to fight the good fight, to finish the race, to keep the faith. (2 Timothy 4:7)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Other Super Bowl

All of us are getting ready for this year's epic Super Bowl between the Who Dat Nation and Peyton's Colts. There's a lot to like about the match-up and the drama surrounding it - everything from the quality of the teams that are going head to head, to some of the individual men on the squads (read Peyton Manning et al.). With two of the most explosive offenses in the recent memory on the same field for 60 minutes, this has the makings of a classic shoot-out that will be blast to watch.

But before you tear into the beer and bratwursts, let me draw your attention to another Bowl that will be taking place: "Faith Bowl III". Ever wonder what it's like to a good Catholic and a professional athlete? I know, every guy out  there (including me) is saying, "It would be awesome!" but the reality is that there are countless challenges to living a moral and devout life in that arena.

Faith Bowl, now in its third year brings you several all-star athletes who give you an inside look at how they are able to balance being the best athlete they can with being the best Catholic and family man they are called to be. All of them are premium athletes, and also fantastic role models. I had a chance to talk with Bobby Keppel last year for an interview and he is great guy.

The program starts at 5PM, so you have plenty of time to get your warm-up routine in before kick-off at 6:28 in Miami. If you live in one of the areas mentioned below with service, tune in and get a dose of faith with your football. Below is some information sent out by Catholic Athletes for Christ. Check it out!

Faith Bowl III

Watch "Faith Bowl III" on Sunday, February 7, 2010

Faith Bowl IIIa half-hour, round-table discussion by sports celebrities about the challenges of living the Catholic faith and the challenges to family life amidst the public arena of professional sports, will air on several Catholic television broadcast outlets and networks Sunday, Feb. 7, 2010. This is the third consecutive year that Family Theater is producing Faith Bowl in collaboration with Catholic Athletes for Christ and the Knights of Columbus.

This year's program features:
Catholic Athletes for Christ

Mike Piazza, a retired catcher after a 16-year career in Major League Baseball, mostly with the New York Mets and Los Angeles Dodgers. He was a 12-time All-Star and the 1993 National League "Rookie of the Year."
Mike Sweeney, a designated hitter for the Seattle Mariners in 2009, a 15-year MLB veteran and five-time selection to the All-Star team as a Kansas City Royal.
Bobby Keppel, a relief pitcher for the Minnesota Twins. He appeared in 37 games in 2009 and was the winning pitcher of the Twins' playoff game with the Detroit Tigers for the American League Central Division title. He is the Faith Bowl III moderator.

Among scheduled broadcasts on Feb. 7 are:


CatholicTV, Boston at 5:30 and 10 PM (EST/ 2:30 and 7 PM PST) airing on cable systems throughout New England

Nationally on Sky Angel IPTV and its website:

Catholic Athletes for Christ_sm
About Catholic Athletes for Christ

Catholic Athletes for Christ (CAC) provides an integrated network of sports oriented clergy and lay people to serve Catholic athletes, coaches and staff in the practice of their faith and to utilize the unique platform given to them to reach the world for Jesus Christ and His Church. CAC is based in Alexandria, VA.  More information is available at

Monday, February 1, 2010

"The Lord Is My Shepherd"

This picture that was recently sent to me showing a beautiful crucifix still standing amid the tragic rubble of Haiti's capitol city serves as a poignant reminder of God's unfailing love and providence in our lives. Even in the midst of harrowing circumstances or painful events that we struggle to understand, God is there. In fact, God is most especially there. He provides the strength to carry on when we are weak and weary. "Commit your ways to the Lord; trust that he will act." (Psalm 37)